HBO Chief Operating Officer Eric Kessler, a 27-year company veteran who launched the “It’s Not TV. It’s HBO” campaign, is leaving the company nine months into his new role, with CEO Richard Plepler saying Kessler’s new COO role “does not best serve the most effective management process at HBO.”
“It is with mixed emotions that I announce that Eric Kessler will be leaving HBO,” Plepler said. “After careful consideration we have decided that the COO position does not best serve the most effective management process at HBO. It is important to say that this in no way reflects on the extraordinary talents that Eric has so ably demonstrated in his 27 years at HBO.”
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He added that Plepler will surely “immediately be inducted into the HBO Hall of Fame.”
Kessler, whose work also included launching HBO Go, will stay on through a transition period, Plepler said.
It’s the second big executive change at HBO in 10 days: Last week, the company announced that Sue Naegle would step down as president of entertainment and move into a first-look production deal with the network.
Kessler, one of the company’s co-presidents, joined HBO in 1986 as marketing manager of the Home Video division. He served as its president from 1989 to 1995, then moved to the network, where he served as executive vice president of marketing and launched the award-winning “Not TV” campaign.
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Beginning in 2007, Kessler oversaw the distribution of the HBO and Cinemax networks, as well as the worldwide sale of HBO’s programming through licensing, DVD and digital distribution.
“Eric was an early champion of our digital future – he was central in establishing our relationship with iTunes (Apple), driving the exploration of mobile experiences and ultimately leading the development and worldwide launch of HBO GO,” said Plepler in a statement. “HBO GO is an essential innovation for HBO and without Eric and his team, it would not have emerged as what is widely regarded as television’s most elegant digital product.”
He added: “Eric’s grace and professionalism are a tribute to his passion and commitment to HBO … Words are insufficient to express our gratitude, appreciation and respect for a beloved colleague.”